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Australia’s first Epilepsy Nurse Practitioner, who is able to diagnose and treat patients, has started at the Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH)—improving access to care for the Metro South Health community.
Epilepsy Nurse Practitioner Peter Jones said he aimed to significantly reduce the wait time for Category 3 patients, who previously could wait a year or more before seeing a neurologist.
“More than 250,000 Australians are living with epilepsy. It’s so broad and diverse and the impact on each individual can vary greatly,” he said.
“A Category 3 patient is someone who has potentially had seizures but isn’t in great risk.”
Along with years of experience as an Epilepsy Clinical Nurse Consultant, Neurology Nurse Unit Manager, and Neurointensive Care Nurse, Mr Jones had to complete a postgraduate course and master’s to become qualified for the role.
“Some people think of the role as a medical replacement, like you’re a junior doctor, but it’s not,” he said.
“I’m able to diagnose, prescribe medication and order imaging. But being a nurse, I see things with a nurse’s lens and focus heavily on quality of life and looking at things such as the impact of the side-effects of medication.”
Mr Jones said PAH patients were getting the best of both worlds by having access to a nurse practitioner and medical team.
“Having both perspectives means all the bases are covered and it’s a better form of care for our patients,” he said.
“If a patient sees me on their first visit and are referred to the service, they’ll see a neurologist on their next visit.
“The neurology team at PAH is wonderful, I know that if I have any concerns or need a second opinion I have a whole group of dedicated neurologists to talk to.”
The Epilepsy Nurse Practitioner trial position was funded by the Futures Project Opportunity, established under the New Models of Care (NMC) initiative of the Specialist Outpatient Strategy.
Up to six patients could be seen in each clinic, which would run twice a week for a year.
In addition to running the outpatient clinics Mr Jones also spent time in the PAH inpatient ward.
“I’m really keen to share my knowledge and experience with staff on the ward and am looking into education and inpatient care,” he said.